Scott McLeod, J.D., Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Educational Leadership at the University of Kentucky. He also is the Founding Director of the UCEA Center for the Advanced Study of Technology Leadership in Education (CASTLE), the nation’s only academic center dedicated to the technology needs of school administrators, and was a co-creator of the wildly popular video series, Did You Know? (Shift Happens). He has received numerous national awards for his technology leadership work, including recognitions from the cable industry, Phi Delta Kappa, and the National School Boards Association. In Spring 2011 he was a Visiting Canterbury Fellow at the University of Canterbury in New Zealand. Dr. McLeod blogs regularly about technology leadership issues at Dangerously Irrelevant and Mind Dump, and occasionally at The Huffington Post. He can be reached at scottmcleod.net.
The day after Halloween is probably a good day to write about fear.
I just finished reading The Culture of Fear by Barry Glassner. In this highly-acclaimed book, Glassner points out that Americans spend vast amounts of time, energy, and mental space fearing the wrong things. For example, airline accidents (22 deaths last year) receive much more media attention than the dangers of everyday driving (43,443 deaths last year) (see NTSB, 2006). We spend billions of dollars trying to curb illegal drug use but spend less than 1 percent of the nation’s antidrug budget on curbing prescription drug abuse, which accounts for over half of drug-related medical issues and deaths (Glassner, 1999, pp. 131–132). Teen pregnancies are labeled as America’s “most serious social problem” despite the fact that teenage birth rates are declining and that the highest teenage birth rates were in the 1950s (p. 93). We are more alarmed about homicides (11th-ranked cause of death) than about heart disease (leading cause of death) (pp. xx-xxi). We spend enormous sums of money responding to public panics over low-frequency incidents like operating table fires or flesh-eating bacteria or the dangers of vaccines or sexual abuse by daycare providers or razor blades in Halloween apples while poverty and low levels of education and unhealthy diets continue to have significantly greater impacts on our daily lives. We worry about road rage rather than drunk drivers. And so on.
In education, we too are often ruled by fear.
Because of a few isolated incidents, we succumb to the siren song of school safety alarmists and pay for metal detectors and drug-sniffing dogs and networked video cameras and drug testing of students in extracurricular activities instead of preschool education.
We would be much better off as a society if we spent less money and attention on sensationalist issues and instead focused on what matters: improving high school dropout and college completion rates, increasing the number of children who arrive at school ready to learn, reducing the growing segregation of students of color and poverty in urban school districts, more equitable school funding, educating children for their future rather then their past…
How much money do we waste on low-frequency, low-impact (but high-profile) issues? I wish that in education, and in America, we were more brave.
In a breakthrough for nuclear fusion research, scientists at China's Experimental Advanced Superconducting Tokamak (EAST) reactor have produced temperatures necessary for nuclear fusion on Earth.
- The EAST reactor was able to heat hydrogen to temperatures exceeding 100 million degrees Celsius.
- Nuclear fusion could someday provide the planet with a virtually limitless supply of clean energy.
- Still, scientists have many other obstacles to pass before fusion technology becomes a viable energy source.
Giving our solar system a "slap in the face."
- A stream of galactic debris is hurtling at us, pulling dark matter along with it
- It's traveling so quickly it's been described as a hurricane of dark matter
- Scientists are excited to set their particle detectors at the onslffaught
The 116th Congress is set to break records in term of diversity among its lawmakers, though those changes are coming almost entirely from Democrats.
- Women and nonwhite candidates made record gains in the 2018 midterms.
- In total, almost half of the newly elected Congressional representatives are not white men.
- Those changes come almost entirely from Democrats; Republican members-elect are all white men except for one woman.
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